Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Tortured Logic of Our Times | Expecting More from Our Leaders

The release this week of George W. Bush's memoir directs us again to a series of conscious choices by which the U.S. government has wandered off into the tall grass with others who practice and rationalize torture.  [updated below]

It would be naive to argue that agents of this nation have not from time to time violated laws banning torture; but we have seldom approved and almost never framed those illegal acts as virtuous behavior. Now some of us do approve — not because torture "works" — I'm convinced the empirical evidence against that is settled — but because it feels good to know someone out there is willing to do anything to protect us — even things that do harm rather than good.

In this, former President Bush misled the American people into behavior we have rightly condemned in other nations, and the Congress of the United States gave him cover by passing the misguided Military Commissions Act of 2006.

In a comment on the passage of the Military Commissions Act I concluded:
In that singular change we have become what we declared unlawful and unacceptable in 1776, fought against until 1783 and carefully designed our Constitution to prevent in 1789. Our oppressors and enemies in that conflict followed us into the spirit of that new social covenant. The US Constititution changed the game.
Now this President and Congress have changed it back and 74 million Baby Boomers failed to stop them. This is what The Big Chill looks like.

It's time for a thaw. I think it's time to shake off the stiffness and invite the generations of voters behind us to join in prevailing on President Obama to complete the work started by his Executive Orders on Detention and Interrogation Policy, January 22, 2009. We can do better than we're doing.

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